March for Babies

March of Dimes

This year as we prepared for our third March for Babies, I felt compelled to do a little more research about the background.  I always knew it was an organization we supported due to our personal experience with premature birth and stint in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but didn’t know (or perhaps had forgotten) the full history.

The March of Dimes was originally founded by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 as National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) due to his personal experience with paralysis from polio.  Through research grants, the polio vaccine was developed by Jonas Salk, MD and Albert Sabin, MD.  Once the original mission as accomplished, the organization later changed its mission to the prevention of birth defects and infant mortality.   Since that time, March of Dimes has supported research into the cellular and molecular basis of genetic diseases, developmental processes and abnormalities, and the epidemiology of premature birth to improve medical diagnosis and develop treatments for a wide range of birth defects and developmental disorders.

The March of Dimes is credited with leading the way to discover genetic causes of birth defects, to promote newborn screening, and to educate medical professionals and the public about best practices for healthy pregnancy. They were instrumental in the research for surfactant therapy to treat respiratory distress and helped initiate the system of regional neonatal intensive care for premature and sick babies.  These two initiatives  were critical to our family since all four babies were born in respiratory distress and immediately admitted to the NICU. Finally, the March of Dimes Folic Acid Campaign achieved a dramatic reduction in the incidence of neural tube defects, birth defects of the brain and spine.  Due to my diagnosis of MTHFR, early folic acid supplements helped me carry the quadruplets as long as I did.

Today, the March of Dimes official mission is,

“To improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, infant mortality, and premature birth.” 

In case you wonder exactly where donations are used, The March of Dimes spends 76¢ of every dollar raised in March for Babies to support research and programs that help babies begin healthy lives.

MoD support

This year marked our third year to walk as a family team.  Our first walk was a bit impromptu, but we found the walk to be an empowering experience.   Last year was the first year we rallied a team to join us and purchased team t-shirts, which gave us a sense of cohesion.  This year, I was hesitant to walk knowing George couldn’t join us due to work, but our family and friends promised to help me and rally around our family team.  With that spirit, I ordered custom-made t-shirts from Custom Ink that would help identify our team members during the walk.  Seeing our small sea of sapphire blue in the crowd warmed my heart and reminded me why we walk each year.

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Friends from all aspects of our lives joined us for the walk, and we appreciated their support immensely.

Twins, triplets & quads, oh my!

Twins, triplets & quads, oh my!

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Unfortunately, Custom Ink didn’t have infant t-shirts available. My artistic friend, Jen, hand painted a custom tank dress for this beauty.

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Nisey and Poppa were a huge help to me. Without George by my side, they helped me get everyone ready and off to the walk.

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Along with my parents, my sister, sister’s fiance, aunt, and two younger cousins joined us for the walk.

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The front of our shirts read, “March for Babies. Saving lives one step at a time.” The back read, “Shawver Quads Family & Friends. March of Dimes 2015.”

I would like to extend a special thanks to our friends and family who supported our March for Babies this year by making a donation to our team, purchasing a team t-shirt, and/ or walking with us.  In no particular order: Steve, Denise, Courtney, Matt, Tiffany, Landry, Luke, Haylie, Ryleigh, Jason, Matt, Natalie, Molly, Sadie, Brandi, Garrett, Seth, Terri, A’ Lysia, Emmerson, Mina, Laayla, Jen, Priscilla, Marco, Sydney, Kristen, Alan, Devon, Marianne, George Jr., Carol, Lindsay, Sara, Billie, Guadalupe, and Karen. 

hugs,

Amber

Psst…..If you would like to make a donation to our team, it’s not too late!  Please visit our team page to make a donation here. 

Sources:

History of the March of Dimes

The Origin of the March of Dimes

March of Dimes FAQ’s

March of Dimes Research Breakthroughs

#WhyIWalk

Last year, we were rookies in the March for Babies.   We registered to walk only a few weeks before the big day and made very few preparations. Our skeleton team consisted only of George, Aunt CiCi, Brandi (George’s cousin), the babies, and me.  At that time, we walked in honor of our babies.  They endured seven week stint in the NICU, and at the time of the walk were making their first public appearances.   George and I felt a sense of gratitude for the March of Dimes, which funds major research to help preemies like ours grow and thrive.

This year, we started much earlier and rallied our friends and family to join us.  We even ordered royal purple team t-shirts to show group cohesiveness.  Our team doubled in size when our neighbors with quads also joined the cause.  Together our team was over thirty-eight members strong and raised $1650!  This year, the cause was bigger than just our own family.  It was in honor of our healthy, thriving babies, but also in memory of the many babies who passed away this year.  Our community of multiples is a small one, and when tragedy strikes, we all feel the sorrow.  Far too many families experienced infant loss, and the March of Dimes is helping to make sure that more families do not endure similar situations.  I can only hope that our team grows even larger and stronger next year!

The sea of royal purple warmed my heart.

The sea of royal purple warmed my heart.

This sign proudly hung in the "Garden of Hope" for other families facing premature births.

This sign proudly hung in the “Garden of Hope” for other families facing premature births.

Our sign was surrounded by signs honoring other babies.  Take a close look at each one though.  Some signs honor babies while others are memorials for babies.  We walk to help prevent future families from hanging memorial signs.  No family should have to endure the loss of an infant.

Our sign was surrounded by signs honoring other babies. Take a close look at each one though. Some signs honor babies while others are memorials for babies. We walk to help prevent future families from hanging memorial signs. No family should have to endure the loss of an infant.

 

This year, my parents and sister's boyfriend (Matt) were right at our side.

This year, my parents and sister’s boyfriend, Matt, were at our side.

Along for the walk were the Murphy Clan (top) and Bonnie Brae Crew (bottom).  Two of these walkers were expectant mothers with babies due this summer.  They know the March of Dimes is working to make sure their babies are delivered full term.

Along for the walk were the Murphy Clan (top) and Bonnie Brae Crew (bottom). Two of these walkers were expectant mothers with babies due this summer. They know the March of Dimes is working to make sure their babies are delivered full term.

Along for the walk were the Murphy Clan (top) and Bonnie Brae Crew (bottom).  Two of these walkers were expectant mothers with babies due this summer.  They know the March of Dimes is working to make sure their babies are delivered full term.

Along for the walk were the Murphy Clan (top) and Bonnie Brae Crew (bottom). Two of these walkers were expectant mothers with babies due this summer. They know the March of Dimes is working to make sure their babies are delivered full term.

Wait a minute...one of these is not like the others.  Which one doesn't belong? When Harper was unhappy in the Runabout, Spencer happily took his place.

Wait a minute…one of these is not like the others. Which one doesn’t belong?
When Mason was unhappy in the Runabout, Spencer happily took his place.

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Aside from group cohesiveness, a nice perk of having a large team was that we didn’t face a barrage of questions or a sea of paparazzi like we did last year.  It allowed us to just walk and enjoy the spring weather.  Also, it was far easier managing four babies with so many helping hands.  Everyone gladly took turns pushing our 120 pound stroller and entertaining fussy babies.

We crossed the finish line as a group for one cause.

We crossed the finish line as a group for one cause.  Everyone, including he babies, received a sticker that read, “I did it!”

 

Quads doubled!

Quads doubled!

After the walk, the babies enjoyed quick picnic lunch of their favorite staple: peanut butter and honey sandwiches with apple slices and goldfish.

After the walk, the babies enjoyed quick picnic lunch of their favorite staple: peanut butter and honey sandwiches with apple slices and goldfish.

Nisey and Papa beam with pride when they are with their grandbabies.

Nisey and Papa beam with pride when they are with their grand babies.  Our family team shirts didn’t come in toddler sizes so I ordered March of Dimes onsies for the babies that read, “Proof Miracles Happen.”  I thought it was quite fitting for them.

 

Have you ever participated in a charity walk or fun run?  If not, I hope you’ll consider joining the March for Babies next spring.

 

Hugs!

 

Amber

 

 

We would like to extend a special thanks to those donated to our team: George Shawver, Jr., Carol Vincell, Kristi Bowman, Melissa Shaw, Megan Haley, Karen & Brad Cox,  Ashley Lopez, Patty Winkle, Leslie Murihead, Melissa Dumas, Marianne Southwick, Lindsay Howard, Treva Muirhead, Cathy Wildman and Terri McGuire.

And for those who walked with us: Jaime Balderas, LeeAnn Brager, Esmeralda Colmenero, Gracie Colmenero, Alfonso Cordova, Joey Cordova, Juana Cordova, Jen Crawford, Candelairo Hernandez, Griselda Hernandez, Kimberly Hernandez, Rojelio Hernandez, Matt Johnson, Kristen Klatt, Kelsey McGuire, Daniel Murphy, Debbie Murphy, Dennis Murpy, Sara Murphy, Ann Odom, Brenda Quintan, Alan Reid, Deven Reid, Jessica Rivera, Alondra Rodriguez, Mina Rodriguez, Viviana Rodriguez, Daria Schwalbe, Paul Schwalbe, Priscilla Serrano, Kaylie Slaughter, Tyler Slaughter, Brandi Steele, Evelyn Villanueva, Courtney Zehnder, Denise Zehnder, and Steve Zehnder.

The Ants Go Marching…

On a whim, George and I decided to create a fundraising team for the March of Dimes, and actually take all four babies to participate. This was a major feat for us. First of all, we just came off lock down at the beginning of the month so we are still germ-fearing and highly protective of our brood. Plus, we are extremely rigid with our schedule, and the walk was scheduled to occur during the morning nap. Despite all of our reservations, we knew the March of Dimes was a cause close to our hearts and worthy of true support: walking the walk. Since very little prior planning was involved, we knew there was a real possibility it would be the two of us waking four babies too early and hauling them into a mass of people. Fortunately, my sister graciously met at our house to help get the babies ready and to join us. George’s aunt and youngest cousin, Brandi also met us to walk the walk.

I haven't the foggiest idea why the parking lot for the walk was behind locked gates.  We had to scrounge up some muscle to hoist four babies loaded into the Runabout over it.

I haven’t the foggiest idea why the parking lot for the walk was behind locked gates, but it made reaching the starting line dicey for us.. We had to scrounge up some muscle to hoist four babies in the Runabout over it.

If you look behind us, there is a glimpse of the crowd marching by.

If you look behind us, there is a glimpse of the crowd marching by.

Mamma's gotta keep tabs on her little quadlings.

Mamma’s gotta keep tabs on her little quadlings.

Being rookies to the March of Dimes, George and I didn’t know what to expect or how to prepare. I am horrible at estimating distances and numbers so there could have been 1,000 walkers or 100,000. Regardless of the actual number, I can say there were people as far as the eye could see and the entire trail was packed. By far this is the most public event we’ve attended with the babies. The path was gridlocked with families and friends marching for a united cause, and it was moving to say the least. We enjoyed seeing all the team t-shirts and learning about the stories behind them. Our hearts were touched by several families walking for preemies much smaller than even Sydney (she was 2 lbs, 6 oz) and in remembrance of the tiniest of family members. It was a solemn reminder never to take our babies’ health for granted and to always remember the medical staff who helped us along the journey. We have a team of perinatologists who helped us keep the babies healthy prior to delivery and then an entire NICU staff who cared for our fragile preemies.

Here is some of our off road action.

Most of the walk, the crowd trudged along at a snails’ pace, which did not make for happy babies. Several times we went off the trail so we could run instead. Our babies enjoy a grueling pace! George and I realized we aren’t in the best of shape anymore…we were rather winded.

I'm not sure if Mason was fed up with his sister badgering him or if he was just totally tuckered out.

I’m not sure if Mason was fed up with his sister badgering him or if he was just totally tuckered out.

Mason found his happy place with Aunt CiCi!

Mason found his happy place with Aunt CiCi!

Even in a large crowd of thousands, a quad stroller is not the most conspicuous. Needless to say, we attracted a great deal of attention. As far as comments and questions, we heard nothing but niceties. Many people shared the notion we believe to be true: “you are blessed!” I beamed each time a passerby told us that and I always will. I don’t recall any rude commentary. However, the paparazzi was in full force. George and I are becoming accustomed to questions and photo requests. The paparazzi is different. They don’t bother to ask questions or dole out compliments. They gawk and snap pictures from their iphones then paste them up on their social networks. I presume I shall eventually get used to that sort of thing, but it made me feel totally violated. After all, I have no idea what happened to pictures snapped of us after the fact. I’m not sure I’ve ever intentionally taken a photo of a stranger without their knowledge or consent, but I will think twice about it if I ever get a notion to do so. That bit of drama aside, we had a great walk together as a family and plan to keep the tradition alive. Next year, we would like to coordinate better and rally a team to join us in the walk. We even brainstormed about creating team t-shirts in the same shade of blue as our stroller.

Ta da!  We made it through the finish line with four babies in tow!

Ta da! We made it through the finish line with four babies in tow!

As we crossed the finish line, each baby received a sticker like this one.  We slapped them on the backs of their onsies since they'd eat them otherwise.

As we crossed the finish line, each baby received a sticker like this one. We slapped them on the backs of their onsies since they’d eat them otherwise.

The finish line was far too crowded for a photo op so we settled for the March of Dimes Bell Helicopter.

The finish line was far too crowded for a photo-op so we settled for the March of Dimes Bell Helicopter.

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Brandi helped keep Rylin happy while Carol snuggled a sleeping Harper.

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By the end of the march, we had to bail three babies from the stroller. Only Sydney remained, contently chattering about the event. With only Sydney in the stroller, Courtney was able to help George lift the Runabout over the railing to the van.

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Grandaddy opted out of the walk, but patiently waited for us at the end and dutifully helped load fussing babies into the van.

Since Courtney joined us for the walk, I let her sit shotgun while I shimmied between the boys in the back of the van.  I realized they've been fooling me into thinking they nap in the van.  Turns out they are quiet, but look like this!

Since Courtney joined us for the walk, I let her sit shotgun while I shimmied between the boys in the back of the van. I realized they’ve been fooling me into thinking they nap in the van. Turns out they are quiet, but look like this!

The girls didn't conk out either. ..Sitting in the back of the van I saw eight little eyes staring back at me!

The girls didn’t conk out either. ..Sitting in the back of the van I saw eight little eyes staring back at me!

What causes are close to your heart?

hugs!

Amber

We would like to extend a special thanks to the following people who donated in honor of our team:

Karen Cox

Christina Childress

Angie Owens

Kristen Klatt

Courtney Zehnder

Brandi Steele

Carol Vincell

March for Babies

Having four premature babies brought a whole new appreciation for the March of Dimes to our family.  Honestly, prior to the arrival of the babies we never gave it much thought.  Thanks to state of the art medical care, our babies who were born 10 weeks too soon are thriving.  To show our support of this cause, George and I started a fundraising team for the March for Babies 2013.  If you are able, we would appreciate any donations made to the March of Dimes in support of The Shawver Quads.  Please visit our team website at: http://www.marchforbabies.org/s_team_page.asp?seid=2061354 Money raised supports the March of Dimes’ research to help expectant mothers reach full term pregnancies and to support families who have babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

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hugs!

Amber